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 The Fiction Project – Incorporate Theme

Though we are discussing creative nonfiction this week, we still have work to do on your short story.

This week, as you see from the chart below, your assignment is to experiment with two different endings to your story.

Fiction Fundamentals


Step in the Project

  Theme and meaning

Week 07

Incorporate theme. Write two possible endings for your story where you incorporate theme and meaning. Choose one of the details in your story to act as a symbol. (Example: a broken vase to symbolize a broken friendship. Or a statue of a famous woman medical doctor to symbolize a new independence.) Write Ending A to be too obvious and preachy about the theme. In Ending B, try to imbed the theme and meaning into the action and character – be more subtle!

Submit your two endings.

And don’t forget to turn in your rough draft next week!


Step 1. Write the first version of your ending where you turn it into propaganda for your theme. This is the preachy ending.

Step 2. Write the second version of your ending, where you subtly weave your theme into action and character. Obviously, this is the ending you want to choose for the rough draft of your story – or an ending with a similar light touch.

Sample endings with theme

Ending A. Preachy Ending. The wood cutter unzips the wolf’s tummy and out pops the little girl. The little girl goes to the closet and frees the grandmother. The grandmother pins a big sign on the girl’s red riding hood that says OBEY YOUR PARENTS. She scolds the girl, “Don’t you ever, ever disobey your parents again. See all the trouble you get into if you disobey? Obey! Obey! Obey!”

Ending B. Ending where theme shines more naturally out of action and character. The wood cutter unzips the wolf’s tummy and out pops the little girl. The little girl is in tears. She hugs the wood cutter and then runs to let her grandmother out of the closet.

      “Oh, Grandmother, I am so sorry,” cries the little girl.

      “Shush, Honey, it wasn’t your fault.”

      “But it was! Mama told me not to talk to strangers with raggedy ears, and I didn’t listen to her.” And so on.

Step 3. Decide if you can use your better – more subtle – theme ending for your story. Is there a way to incorporate metaphor and symbol? Again, this could be done but in a subtle way. For example, we could say that when Little Red Riding Hood is freed from the wolf’s belly, she is escaping the prison of disobedience. Too heavy? Possibly, but such interpretations are worth considering as you incorporate details.

What to turn in this week: Submit the two sample endings for your story.

Developing Your Rough Draft

You should be making good progress on your rough draft. Newsflash! It is due next week! As you read and re-read and write and revise, do you see your characters involved in conflict that builds? Have things reached a climax? Have you worked toward your ending yet, where you emphasize your theme once more? (Remember, your main character is supposed to grow in some way – or change.)

Remember, as you work on your two sample endings (above), it should help you to decide if you should use any of these endings in your actual rough draft of the story.

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